PKI management and its mistakes
Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is a framework that governs the issuing of digital certificates to secure confidential data and provide unique identities to users. TLS/SSL mainly uses PKI to establish secure connections between User and Server and is also used to authenticate IoT devices. PKI is also used to secure end-to-end communications using asymmetric encryption using public and private keys.
What is PKI Management?
It is becoming complex to manage PKI as compared to early times. If PKI is compromised due to improper management, it can cause a data breach as the volume of digital certificates increases exponentially. So basically, PKI Management, as the name suggests, is an effective way to organize and handle the public key infrastructure that includes many tasks and responsibilities.
PKI Management includes managing Certificates and Keys, CAs, HSMs, and a lot more. So, PKI Management has required expertise in today’s scenario as it just can’t be ignored.
Common PKI Management Risks/Mistakes
Improper PKI Management gives birth to various errors. It creates room for different malfunction, outages, and threats. When best practices are not being followed, a few risks arise within the system.
Here are a few of the standard PKI Management mistakes usually encountered:
- Lack of crypto agility
Crypto Agility is an ability in a security system to rapidly adapt to a new algorithm without significantly changing the system infrastructure. This process is most important as with the development of Public key infrastructure; threats are also evolving. So, whenever any vulnerability is being discovered within the system, PKI should try to resolve it as soon as possible by updating all the crypto mechanisms. If this process doesn’t work accordingly, it can exploit vulnerabilities.
- Improper Visibility
With thousands of certificates being stored in the system, Certificate Admins can’t take care of every certificate effectively. When these certificates increase into many, an Outage is on the door. It leads to certification expiration and outages because it is pretty difficult for operators to find, update, renew every certificate before their expiry.
- Absence of Automation
Manual management is challenging, with thousands of certificates being circulated every day. An organization cannot simply rely on manual control to keep Public Key Infrastructure updated. It is a generic need to include automated workflows for various Public Key Infrastructure tasks. Automation helps in increasing efficiency and decreasing human errors.
PKI Best Practices
All organization that deals with PKI must have encountered the above-listed common problems. With a few PKI Security practices, organizations can avoid them. Here listing a few best rules to follow:
- Designing of Infrastructure
Before implementing a PKI, Infrastructure should be appropriately designed and planned as a small mistake can cost a huge. So, organizations should make a detailed plan before integrating, as it is essential in the scenario.
- Up-to-date Security Protocols
Always remain updated with the latest security patches and protocols. Always keep your PKI attached with the latest to keep it secured.
- Certificate Inventory
Organizations need to maintain a certificate inventory to keep track of the certificates stored. Due to the large and increasing number of certificates every day, we need auditing.
- Robust Security
Always protect your stored keys and certificates at any cost. For maximum protection, organizations can keep them on Hardware Security Modules (HSMs) or at a different place from the Internet.
- Examine and Revoke
Public key infrastructure never sits static. Regular rotating and inspection of certificates are necessary. A proactive system should be there for revoking and suspending expired or outdated certificates to avoid any threats.